I strongly believe that composition writing is very helpful for my students. In the future, they can use this experience for finding some education opportunities, especially my younger students, who have the possibility and potential to enter colleges, if they receive the financial support or, at least, find a job to start their education. At the same time, the experience of composition writing can help my students in their regular life after their release from prison. Today, people should be literate, whereas composition writing helps my students to convey their ideas logically and properly. They can use this experience to communicate with other people through writing or they will have no fear, when they have to write something because many students feel embarrassed, when I first ask them to write something.
At first glance, my decision to teach prisoners may seem to be unusual, but I am a former Green Beret who’s seen action in Panama, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. I am an adrenaline junky and my work in prison generates a lot of adrenaline and positive emotions. At the same time, traditional school settings bore me. I cannot afford teaching in a conventional school. This job is not for me, whereas, in prison, I feel being really useful, especially because a few educators agree to work with inmates. I prefer a slightly more challenging environment. Prison provides it in abundance. One day students may be debating the virtues of freedom and the wisdom of peace, whereas the next day they may be trying to shank me.
However, I attempt to use a student-centered approach because it brings positive outcomes in my work and helps me to find the common ground with students. What I mean here is the fact that the student-centered approach helps me to learn as much information about my students as possible. I attempt to understand what kind of persons they are, what traits character prevail in my students, what each student does really need and want, what his educational level and actual potential are. As I gather information about each student, I attempt to meet his needs and academic level. As a rule, I give tasks, which are difficult to complete for my students but they can complete them successfully. This is why as they complete tasks they grow more and more confident in their abilities to write compositions and to become good writers. As their confidence increases, they become friendlier in relation to me and they just start to take me seriously because they understand that I can help them to become better, to develop new skills and abilities, and, probably, to find their place in the new life, after their release from prison.
Thus, I believe my work is very important not only for my personal and professional development but also for my students. I just try to help them to uncover their potential and start writing to discover new fields to enter after their release from prison. In such a way, I attempt to help to my students and to the community.
Greene, Stuart and April Lidinski. From Inquiry to Academic Writing, A Text and Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. Print.